Simple Celebrations: An easy Moana-themed luau

moanabdyheaderWhen we planned our Disney trip almost a year ago Chris and I agreed that this would be the girls’ birthday celebration and present all rolled into one. But since we kept it a secret I didn’t know what to do when Charlotte started planning her fifth birthday party and inviting friends. I couldn’t just say we weren’t having a party this year without an explanation, and I had kind of set the party bar high (see owl tea party, Minnie’s bow-tique party, Pinkalicious party, rainbow party, and hot air balloon picnic). I decided to go ahead and host a party at our house, make it a joint celebration for both Charlotte and Tessa, and try to make it as easy and low-cost as possible. I think I mostly succeeded.

Thankfully Moana turned out to be a really easy theme. Annoyingly I couldn’t find many actual Moana themed decorations ( they were sold out everywhere) but I did manage to order some plates and napkins online. For the rest of the decor I took Charlotte to Hobby Lobby and together we picked some things from their generic luau decorations. I scaled back a bit and just decorated the console table that you see when you first walk in the door, the food table, and the fireplace area.

I resisted the urge to print and cut out a bunch of Moana-themed printables (banners, water bottle labels, cupcake toppers, etc.) as I had done in the past and just kept everything pretty basic. Some balloons scattered on the floor and the Moana soundtrack in the background set a festive atmosphere. DSC_0042I did get a little carried away and made Heart of Te Fiti necklaces for both girls (I found this tutorial using clay, twine, and pearl beads) and I sculpted a little heart of Te Fiti stone that we used in a game.

I only made two handmade decorations. One was a model of Moana’s boat out of Popsicle sticks which Charlotte helped me with. The second was a “sail” for the front door. I used some brown wrapping paper, drew a big swirly wave symbol on it, then outlined it in some red paint.

Our house is small, and I didn’t really want the guests to drag all our toys out, so I decided they were old enough to follow an actual party structure. I kept it simple and traditional, and the party really did go pretty smoothly. I closed the bedroom doors and kept everyone in the living room/kitchen area. Charlotte greeted each guest by saying “Welcome to my luau” and handing them a lei. Once most everyone had arrived I had the kids sit down and read the story of Moana from a Little Golden Book we’d given Charlotte (her Valentine’s Day present I think). DSC_0049Then we played some games. We played Heart, Heart, Who’s Got the Heart (button, button, who’s got the button) which was perfect since everyone got a chance to participate. Then we played a couple rounds of Maui Says (Simon Says) before the kids started getting restless. We ended with some “traditional island dances” (Tooty-Ta and I’ve Got This Feeling, Charlotte’s favorites) and then opened presents.

We finished by singing happy birthday to the girls, then I shooed the kids outside into the backyard while the moms fixed plates of food and handed out cupcakes.

I again kept the food super simple with just a fruit tray, some goldfish, and Chex mix. I bought some blue fruit punch to look like ocean water, and the cake was from the Walmart bakery. It turned out really cute and was super tasty.DSC_0023

The kids played in the backyard the rest of the time with bubbles, chalk, and our sand and water table. I’m so thankful we had perfect weather for it.

When they were ready to go home each guest picked a pair of sunglasses (Target dollar spot) and a bag that I’d decorated with the Moana “swirl.” Inside was a few Maui-inspired tatoos (Amazon), a paper umbrella, and a baggie of vanilla-flavored goldfish and blue jellybeans that were supposed to look like fish in the sea.

Thanks to Pinterest I think we’ve all felt the occasional compulsion to make our birthday parties super cute and special, with handmade, creative decor (been there, done that) but my goodness when I was looking for Moana party ideas online some of these parties were as elaborate as a wedding! So crazy. My goal this time, now that Charlotte is old enough to have an actual opinion and understanding of what a birthday party is, was to make her feel special and give her a chance to celebrate with her friends. When we finished decorating (she helped me) her comment was, “It looks so Moana in here!” Mission accomplished. Memories made. Budget intact. Win.DSC_0004

Your turn! What party themes are your kids asking for? Any tips for keeping it simple but still special? Any recommendations for party games? I’d love to hear all your thoughts!

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